Newt Gingrich doubled down on his claims that the Obama administration is engaged in a “war against religion,” during a town hall in Florida this morning, and accused Mitt Romney of acting in the same “dictatorial” fashion while serving as governor of Massachusetts.
“The Obama administration is engaged in a war against religion,” Gingrich began. “Their decision last week that they would impose on every Catholic institution, every Jewish institution, every Protestant institution the Obamacare standard of what you have to buy as insurance is a direct violation of freedom of religion, an example of the dictatorial attitude of this administration,” he charged, ignoring the regulation’s religious exemption. He then went after Romney:
GINGRICH: Let me just note that in a similar circumstance, Governor Romney imposed activities on the Catholic hospitals against their opposition. Refused to allow them the right of conscience in Romneycare. Just as, by the way, he eliminated serving Kosher food to elderly Jewish residents under Medicaid.
In reality, Romney’s position on allowing religious institutions like Catholic hospitals to opt out of providing emergency contraception to rape victims is more complicated. In 2005, the governor vetoed a “widely supported bill” making the morning-after pill available over the counter and requiring hospitals to offer emergency contraception to rape victims, even after pledging to support such measures while running for governor. By September, the state legislature “easily overrode” his veto, but the Department of Public Health, which is overseen by Romney, began drafting regulations that exempted religious hospitals from the requirement.
Then suddenly, in December 2005, Romney “abruptly ordered his administration to reverse course… and require Catholic hospitals to provide emergency contraception medication to rape victims.” “My personal view in my heart of hearts is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraceptives or emergency contraceptive information,” he told the Boston Herald. Romney has since said that he would support broader federal conscience protections for health care workers and pledged to eliminate the Title X program which provides “reproductive health services like birth control” to millions of women.
Romney also angered the Jewish community in 2003 after he “nixed the funding of about $5 per day” that allocated additional dollars for “poor Jewish nursing-home residents to get kosher meals.” The governor warned that the subsidy would lead to an “increased rate for nursing facilities,” but the Massachusetts Legislature “approved an amendment to restore the $600,000 to finance the kosher meals.”